Sotomayor Accuses Conservative Justices Of Attempting To ‘Dismantle’ Separation Of Church And State
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks at Tufts University on September 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused the conservative members of the court of working to “dismantle the wall of separation between church and state” in a blistering dissent released on Tuesday.

The Court announced its 6-3 ruling in the case Carson v. Makin, with the majority holding that the government could not ban taxpayer-funded tuition assistance from being used by citizens for private religious education.

School choice advocate Corey DeAngelis tweeted the news, saying, “U.S. Supreme Court just ruled in a 6-3 decision that preventing school choice families from taking their children’s taxpayer-funded education dollars to religious private schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment.”

Justice Roberts, in the majority, wrote, “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.”

“This Court continues to dismantle the wall of separation between church and state that the Framers fought to build,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “In just a few years, the Court has upended constitutional doctrine. shifting from a rule that permits States to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.”

Sotomayor went on to voice her concern over where such a decision might eventually lead the Court, saying, “Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”

Pradheep Shanker disagreed with Sotomayor’s assessment, however, saying that she effectively had the argument backward.

“WRONG. The government saying religious beliefs BLOCKS people from participating in government UNDERMINES the separation of church and state. The STATE is barred from isolating religious beliefs. Sotomayor ignores that.”

“If you take Sotomayor’s reasoning to the full extent, every religous based outfit can never participate in the public square fully. If you are atheist, you can. This was always an obvious violation of the 1st amendment. Sotomayor blew it,” he continued, adding, “The state cannot bar religious outfits from participating in public programs any more than they can block anyone else. Sotomayor would make a SPECIAL class of believers (religious) that are excluded. Religion was never supposed to be separated from the public square.”

Shanker’s conclusion was simple: if the government did not want to fund religious private schools in addition to nonsectarian private schools, it always had the option to fund none of them at all.

“Government always has the choice to stop spending the money at all. But as long as they are spending, they can’t exclude you ONLY because you believe in a faith system.”


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